Not long before having my first child, I completed my MBA. Back then, I thought I knew a thing or two about business and could manage my way along my journey to conquering the world.
Then the kiddos came along and I became the CEO of my family, if you will.
Nine years into this parenting gig and it’s really quite astonishing how valuable my business training and continuous business learning, mostly through books and online resources, has proven to be.
For moms and dads, the art of parenting calls for a skill set the business world has long touted as its own: finance, leadership, innovation, marketing, productivity, operations, accounting, strategy, information technology—whether we realize it or not, we parents are concentrating in all of them!
What’s more, the world is changing rapidly. Current economic trends offer incredible creative and educational potential for our families if we know where to look.
You don’t need an MBA to get organized and up to speed. Here are five business books every parent should read:
‘Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,’ by David Allen
When it comes to getting things done, parents face special kinds of challenges, and these change continuously with the ages and stages of our children. Luckily, we have access to the wisdom of David Allen and his tried and true methods of getting our inboxes to empty and achieving a “mind like water.”
“Getting Things Done” is a comprehensive guide to managing the work that is your life. First published in 2002, the principles Allen teaches are just as relevant today. If you feel overwhelmed by all you wish to get done each day, this book could be a game changer for you.
Go whole hog and apply the entire system or choose from the book’s many helpful and simple tips, like the “2-minute rule,” which states if a task can be completed in two minutes or less, do it immediately.
As it happens, GTD, as it has come to be known, was just revised earlier this year. According to David Allen & Co,” David has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with important perspectives on the new workplace, and adding material that will make the book fresh and relevant for years to come.”
‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,’ by Stephen Covey
First published in 1990, Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits” is a staple fixture on most executives’ bookshelves. A decidedly refreshing read, Covey outlines what he believes are the seven key habits one must master (in succession) to be successful. In the new economy he contends a shift in focus from skills and tactics “back to the ‘character ethic,'” is what is warranted.
Covey’s first three habits: 1. Be proactive; 2. Begin with the end in mind, and 3. Put first things first, focus on the individual. The next three: 4. Think win/win; 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood; and 6. Synergize, center on working with others. The last: 7. Sharpening the saw calls for continuous review and improvement.
Highly introspective and brimming with practical examples, parents can both employ the habits in the management of their lives, and teach the wisdom of this classic book to their children.
‘The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?’ by Seth Godin
In “The Icarus Deception,” Seth Godin redefines the current economy as a shift from the Industrial Revolution to what he calls the “Connection Revolution,” and describes what it will take to succeed under totally new rules.
What on Earth does this have to do with parenting? So much.
First, if you’ve had your head down changing diapers and watching Elmo for a while, you might not have noticed the extent to which the world is changing. Seth Godin brings us up to speed.
Second, Godin’s book is an encouraging call to action—to see our work as art, an idea we can manifest in our work as parents and pass to our children as they embark on their own creative pursuits.
Not exactly a business book, but parents should also check out Godin’s rant on education: Stop Stealing Dreams TED Talk where Seth Godin answers “What is school for?” Prefer to read? The on-screen manifesto is free on his blog.
‘The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness,’ by Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey declares, “Debt is dumb. Cash is king. And the paid off home mortgage has become the status symbol of choice,” on his radio show in which he doles out practical financial advice, he quips, “your grandmother would give.”
The need for financial security becomes ever more important after we become parents. Ramsey’s advice is easy to follow, motivating, and solid.
‘The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles,’ by Steven Pressfield
In “The War of Art,” author Steven Pressfield, best known for his novel, “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” introduces the concept of resistance. While not specifically a business book, per se, “The War of Art” has been touted as groundbreaking by modern entrepreneurs who view their work as art and relate all too well to Pressfield’s characterization of resistance.
Pressfield states, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
He defines resistance as “an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
In “The War of Art” he encourages readers to break through the resistance, offering practical advice on recognizing it and working past it. “The War of Art” offers invaluable insights to parents who aim to create anything for their families and who wish to foster an environment of creativity for their children.